Free Application for Federal Student Aid
The most important form in applying for financial aid is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, usually just called the FAFSA. The information on the FAFSA determines how much aid you can receive from federal sources and KHEAA programs. The results are automatically sent to KHEAA and the colleges you list on the FAFSA. The best way to submit the FAFSA is at www.fafsa.gov. Make sure you use the .gov site. Other sites will ask you to pay to submit the FAFSA. You don’t have to pay. The FAFSA is free.
Filing the FAFSA online results in fewer errors and quicker results. Much of the information for the FAFSA can be automatically transferred from federal tax returns. You’ll need the following information for the FAFSA:
- Your Social Security number.
- Your driver’s license number.
- The W-2 forms and other records of money earned from the most recent tax year (if you’re filing the 2015-16 academic year, you’ll need your 2014 income and tax returns).
- Your tax returns (and your spouse’s, if you’re married).
- Your parents’ most recent tax return (if you’re a dependent student).
- Your untaxed income records.
- Your current bank statements.
- Your current business and investment information.
- Your alien registration or permanent resident card (if you’re not a U.S. citizen).
You can use a FAFSA on the Web worksheet to organize all your information before you go online to submit the FAFSA. If you find out while filing the FAFSA that you’re missing some information, you can save the FAFSA and finish it after you find the information you need.
Check out the FAFSA Checklist on the KHEAA website for more information!
- You can use the FAFSA4caster to get an idea of your eligibility for federal student aid. That will give you a better overview of what your net cost will be.
- When you’re ready to submit the FAFSA, the FAFSA4caster can transfer the information you supplied directly to the FAFSA on the Web application. That will speed up the process of applying for federal aid. You’ll need to update any information that has changed in the meantime.
- You can ask the FAFSA4caster to send you a reminder to complete your FAFSA once your information has been transferred.
Keep these items in mind:
- Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1st.
- About one-third of FAFSAs are selected for verification. Keep your documents handy.
- Students should open email/mail every day, and respond quickly to requests for information.
- The FAFSA asks for prior-prior year tax information. If the family’s financial picture changes (due to unemployment, illness, etc.) contact the financial aid office of the schools.
- Depending on eligibility, award letters will include free money (grants/scholarships), money that needs to be paid back (loans) and aid that needs to be earned (work study).
- Review award letters carefully and compare offers side by side. To understand the net cost (the out-of-pocket costs to be met by savings, work-study, or loans), take each school’s total cost of attendance and subtract the free money offered.
- Contact the colleges' financial aid offices to find out if more free financial aid money may have become available.
- Loans can be accepted, accepted but for a lesser amount than offered, or declined.
- When it's time to make a decision a good rule of thumb is to consider college fit and affordability. Does the school meet your child's needs (academic, social, etc.)? What impact will out-of-pocket expenses have on your child and family now, and in the future?
- Don't forget KEES! The Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship is awarded to students who earn at least a 2.5 GPA each year they attend a Kentucky high school. They may also earn bonus awards for ACT/SAT, AP exam scores. What has your student earned? Learn about KEES and have your child open their account at KHEAA.com.